In society today especially in the state and country that I live in, it seems overly protective throughout most of the day to day running. It is almost a nanny state or country. Work Health and Safety practices now control what most of society can and can’t do. Of course there are some well founded reasons why sometimes it is a good idea to be cautious i.e. Riding a bike helmet because you may fall off and hurt your head. However the sensible reasoning of Health and Safety (HS) seems to go to far.
In Australia, Schools are now fenced in by 8-10 feet high fences, aesthetically looking more like a prison than a school. Teachers are known to wear High Visible Clothing in the playground so as to be seen. I understand these things and many more are for the safety, safety of staff, children, and anyone that comes on to the property in this litigious society, but I fear common sense is being knocked out the door, down the road and may never come back. I fear that we are protecting a generation so much that one day if they are without the protection of the “norm” of society then they will not be able to fend for themselves.
There is a movement through schools and teachers to move towards flexible learning environments. Flexible learning normally looks like it should possibly belong to one of those ultra cool IT companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft. It’s normally funky, bright colours, different seating arrangements and different seating options i.e. stools, standing, bean bags, chairs, lounges. Enough preaching to the choir, you most probably already know!
However, in this day and age when the HS brigade is out in full force. Students are wrapped up in cotton wool for fear not just that they might hurt themselves at school but mummy and daddy may actually bring in the lawyers and solicitors to sue the school. I’m not sure this happens now, it may. If you look at the cases that appear in the papers of people slipping on a grape in a supermarket getting hundreds of thousands of dollars, it makes me feel it is not too far away.
So with the variety of seating options that may be at your disposal as a classroom teacher, I wonder what will actually be required soon with new students that you get each year. A Learning place health and safety style induction within the school/classroom? If you think this is a bit far fetched, if your school has anything to do with Positive Behaviours for Students Learning, then I will refer you to the rule of being Safe. Teachers actually have to take time out of their already busy schedule to model and show safe and unsafe behaviours in the playground and classroom.
What ever happened to the days where kids will be kids? I know I fell over as a kid, and they were better learning experiences then if someone said don’t do X. (Because for sure I was going out to try that).
So the question I will leave you is this. If we think these new flexible learning spaces will help students learn, How do we protect ourselves in an evolving litigious society?